• Word of the day
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    Wednesday, November 07, 2018

    dissemble

    verb [dih-sem-buhl]
    to conceal one's true motives, thoughts, etc., by some pretense; speak or act hypocritically.
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    What is the origin of dissemble?

    Dissemble comes from late Middle English dissemile, dissimill, an alteration of the verb dissimule (from Old French dissimuler “to keep one’s intentions hidden,” from Latin dissimulāre, “to disguise or conceal one’s thoughts”), and associated in form with the noun semblance and the obsolete verb semble (from Old French sembler, from Latin similāre and simulāre “to pretend”). Dissemble entered English in the sense “to pass over, ignore, neglect” in the 16th century.

    How is dissemble used?

    He counted heavily on his ability to dissemble, knowing that every decent lawyer had at least several drops of dissimulation in his blood. Elizabeth George, Missing Joseph, 1993

    I didn't know how to dissemble, I quite openly acknowledged the mistakes I made, and didn't try hard to hide them. Johann Michael von Loën, The Honest Man at Court, 1748, translated by John R. Russell, 1997

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  • Word of the day
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    Tuesday, November 06, 2018

    dopester

    noun [dohp-ster]
    a person who undertakes to predict the outcome of elections, sports events, or other contests that hold the public interest.
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    What is the origin of dopester?

    The dope at the heart of this Americanism refers to information, data, or news. This slang term dates to 1905–10.

    How is dopester used?

    The 1954 season for predicting the Congressional elections is now in full swing and the political dopesters will be hard at it from now until Nov. 2, when the voters will select more than one-third of the Senators and all of the Congressmen who will sit in the Eighty-fourth Congress. Ruth Silva, "A Look Into a Crystal Election Ball," New York Times, October 10, 1954

    We make no prediction, not being either a dopester or an expert. Ernest C. Hastings, "Stock the Goods That Women Want," Dry Goods Economist, October 21, 1922

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  • Word of the day
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    Monday, November 05, 2018

    bewhiskered

    adjective [bih-hwis-kerd, -wis-]
    ancient, as a witticism, expression, etc.; passé; hoary: a bewhiskered catchword of a bygone era.
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    What is the origin of bewhiskered?

    Bewhiskered is first recorded in 1755–65. It combines be-, a prefix used in the formation of verbs, with whiskered.

    How is bewhiskered used?

    That bewhiskered saying that "pride goeth before a fall" is true only in the case of ignorant people, says The International Lifeman. "Stick Up Your Chin," The Spectator: Life Insurance Supplement, January 7, 1915

    Good things come in small packages. ... This wrinkled and bewhiskered expression haunts our editorial vision when we pause to contemplate the career of a life, progressive citizen of the gopher state, a man small in stature but big in brain. "Sidelights on Men in the Trade," Domestice Engineering, October 3, 1914

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  • Word of the day
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    Sunday, November 04, 2018

    fillip

    noun [fil-uhp]
    anything that tends to rouse, excite, or revive; a stimulus: Praise is an excellent fillip for waning ambition.
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    What is the origin of fillip?

    Fillip is imitative, or onomatopoeic, in origin. Earlier forms include filip, fylippe, philip, and phillip. Fillip looks like a variant of flip, but flip is first recorded in the late 17th century, whereas fillip dates from the 16th.

    How is fillip used?

    It is so pleasant to receive a fillip of excitement when suffering from the dull routine of everyday life! Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, 1857

    His ordinary government allowance of spirits, one gill per diem, is not enough to give a sufficient fillip to his listless senses ... Herman Melville, White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, 1850

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  • Word of the day
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    Saturday, November 03, 2018

    grumphie

    noun [gruhm-fee, groom-pee]
    Chiefly Scot. a familiar name for a pig.
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    What is the origin of grumphie?

    Grumphie is an exclusively Scottish word, first used by Robert Burns (1759-96). Grumphie is formed from the verb grumph “to grunt” and is imitative of the typical sound pigs and some humans make. The suffix -ie is a spelling variant of -y, one of whose functions is to form endearing or familiar names like Billy, doggy (doggie), and sweetie. Grumphie entered English in the late 18th century.

    How is grumphie used?

    "Grumphie smells the weather, / An' grumphie sees the wun'; / He kens when clouds will gather, / An' smoor the blinikin' sun." This extravagant tribute to the pig as a weather prophet is typical of a large number of proverbs, though, perhaps no other animal has been credited with actually seeing the wind. W. J. Humphreys, "Some Weather Proverbs and Their Justification," The Popular Science Monthly, January 1911

    If ye're proud to be a grumphie clap yer trotters! Alastair D. McIver, Glasgow Fairytale, 2010

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  • Word of the day
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    Friday, November 02, 2018

    univocal

    adjective [yoo-niv-uh-kuhl, yoo-nuh-voh-]
    having only one meaning; unambiguous.
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    What is the origin of univocal?

    Like its cousin equivocal, univocal derives from the Latin vōx meaning “voice.” Whereas the prefix equi- means “equal,” uni- means “one.” Univocal dates to 1535–45.

    How is univocal used?

    When then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes was presented with allegations of sexual harassment — first in a bombshell lawsuit, later in published reports — his response was univocal: Deny, deny, deny. Erik Wemple, "Harvey Weinstein's puzzling legal threat against the New York Times," Washington Post, October 6, 2017

    For any given element--event, character, development--is never simply univocal or one-sided but generally has two or more valences: it is serious and ironic, pathos-charged and parodic, apocalyptic and farcical, critical and self-critical. Dominick LaCapra, History, Politics, and the Novel, 1987

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  • Word of the day
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    Thursday, November 01, 2018

    penumbra

    noun [pi-nuhm-bruh]
    a shadowy, indefinite, or marginal area.
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    What is the origin of penumbra?

    The noun penumbra is composed of the Latin adverb paene “almost” and the Latin noun umbra “shadow.” Paene is not usual in Latin compounds, the most frequent being paeninsula (paeneinsula) “peninsula” and paenultimus (pēnultimus) “almost last, second last," especially the “second last syllable” (penultimate is often misused in English to mean “ultimate, last”). Penumbra (paenumbra) does not occur in Classical or Medieval Latin; it is a New Latin coinage by the German mathematician and astronomer Johann Kepler (1571-1630). Penumbra entered English in the 17th century.

    How is penumbra used?

    ... I couldn't figure out why I was hearing it in the penumbra of an old-growth floodplain forest in South Carolina, a forest that once stretched as far north as Upper Virginia and as far west as East Texas. Rosalind Bentley, "Among the Majestic Trees in Congaree, Slipping Into Silence," New York Times, July 16, 2018

    It's a daring move, an attempt to trace the penumbra of abuse across a shattered psyche. Ron Charles, "Roddy Doyle was determined to write a novel that shocked--and succeeded," Washington Post, October 17, 2017

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